A surprise gift in a will has allowed the small church of Holy Trinity Church, Lydney to open its doors to local people as a warm space with coffee and cake.
Retired vicar, the Revd Pat Cox said, “We’d been considering starting a coffee morning at church since before covid hit. One day, we had a letter from a solicitor, telling us that we’d been left a very generous legacy by a local person, to be used for the pastoral care of parishioners.
“Encouraged by our vicar, the Revd David Gardiner, we decided that this was a lovely opportunity to start the coffee morning, on Wednesdays between 10am and 12.30pm. We brought along card games, Jenga, magazines… lots of things to do, as we thought it might be quite quiet. Now you can’t hear yourself think!”
Lots of people have got involved, from rota planning and shopping for coffee, to giving people lifts, baking and washing up, and not all of them are regulars at church services. People meet in a small room, about 20ft by 50ft, at the back of the church.
Pat said, “It’s been running for two months now with mostly local people coming along and about a 50/50 split between men and women, which is wonderful. Every week there are new people. Last week there were 15-20, but one week we had 30. If we get many more we’ll have to expand into the church itself. Most of the people who come are retired. Some might bring grandchildren and there are a couple of younger people too.
“People are really friendly – they will sit at one table for half an hour and then move to be with another group. I love how friendly it is and how there’s no ceremony – it’s just like home. People are quite happy to pour themselves a cup of tea or cut their own slice of cake. One lady who gets a lift to the coffee morning can always be found washing up in the kitchen at the end of the session!
“I asked one man what encouraged him to come and he said, ‘This is it – this is what it should all be about. Sharing and caring together.’
“It’s totally free to come along. We actually discourage people from giving money, as we want it to be about offering our hospitality and reflecting the generosity of the donor in what we are doing. For me, I have a real sense that the church isn’t about bottoms on seats, it’s about being known in the community as a caring place.”
Reader Aileen Powell who has been a big part of the coffee mornings since they started said, “Our little church centre on the hill is at the heart of our community. I feel that our opening up on Wednesday mornings to provide this welcome really creates a space where everyone is invited to be together. So many of our church congregation have become involved, and we hope and pray for more ways to move forward together.”